Question regarding GOT episode “Hardhome”

I’m re-watching Game of Thrones ahead of the final season, and just watched “Hardhome.” (Season 5, Episode 8.)

Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane travel to the Wildling village to attempt to negotiate an alliance. While there, the White Walkers and their wights attack, and a great battle ensues.

It’s an intense, pivotal episode, that raises the stakes on the whole series and demonstrates just how serious a threat the White Walkers really are.

But I got to wondering: Were the Walkers going to attack Hardhome regardless, and Jon Snow just happened to be there at the time? Or did they somehow know Jon was going to be there, and that’s why they attacked when they did?

If the former, well, that’s a pretty damned convenient coincidence from a storytelling perspective, isn’t it? If the latter, then wouldn’t that be all the more reason for the Free Folk to hate and distrust him?

(Or am I asking prematurely and this question will be addressed later? I hadn’t seen this since it first aired, and don’t have a great memory for such details, hence my re-watching binge.)

I don’t think it’s addressed later, but I’m not sure if it’s that much of a coincidence – IIRC, Jon gets word that a lot of wildlings have been fleeing the approaching White Walkers, and escaped to Hardhome, and expect an attack at some point, if not as overwhelming a force as we eventually see. So if the White Walkers are slowly marching south, with wildlings fleeing for refuge before them, then it’s not really a coincidence if they attack soon after word gets out that Hardhome needs help.

While it’s a bit of a convenient coincidence it’s a relatively minor narrative failure by comparison to so many of the other howlers in the post book seasons in my opinion.

Perhaps so. And iiandyiiii’s take makes sense as well. Seems like the attack on Hardhome was inevitable; Jon knew time was of the essence and managed to not quite get the Wildlings out before the attack.

I’ll forgive them for playing up the timing to its most dramatic effect, as it made for a great episode.

IIRC, Hardhome is the largest remaining concentration of Wildlings north of the Wall. So is a logical objective both for Jon and the Walkers. The Walkers were going to attack it anyway. The only coincidence is in the timing, that their attack took place so soon after Jon’s arrival. (But the show is rife with such coincidences.)

Convenient storytelling is the essence of Game of Thrones. But, military history is a story of contests over key terrain or assets. Jon Snow needed bodies, the White Walkers needed bodies, and all those bodies were at Hardhome. It’s not strange that they would all converge there.

Just so happens I am doing the same as the OP, just watched Hardhome last night. It was my impression that it was coincidence. I had forgotten the (IMO) hot Wildling leader, Karsi, played by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen. I remember the first time through hoping she would go on to be a regular cast member, at least for a while.

That actress plays a TV news reporter in the Danish political drama Borgen, if you want to see more of her.